SHANNON FAGAN: The Fourth is over, but there’s plenty of football fireworks to come

The Fourth of July has come and gone. Official high school football practices are now less than a month away (Aug. 5), with Week 0 regular season contests allowed to begin on Aug. 22-23.

But area football teams aren’t the only ones gearing up for the 2024 season.

The sports crew here at WEIS Radio is beginning to put together its fall broadcast schedule. We’ll have more details on that in the days and weeks to come, but to help satisfy that high school football craving, I thought I’d give you a week-by-week sneak peek of the area games we’re keeping our eyes on for the season to come.

Friday, Aug. 23

The season begins with a bang with two longtime rivalry games.

Back-to-back Class 4A state runner-up Cherokee County hosts five-time 3A state champion Piedmont in the Battle of Highway 9. The Warriors have won the last two meetings, including last year’s 26-7 contest in Piedmont.

Class 1A Spring Garden welcomes Class 2A Sand Rock to Jason Howard Field to kick off the season. The Panthers have won the last six in the series, including last season’s 48-22 game.

Also, Gaylesville hosts Donoho and Cedar Bluff travels to Valley Head to open their 2024 seasons.

Friday, Aug. 30

It’s been five years since Cedar Bluff and Collinsville have met in football, but that drought will come to an end in Week 1. The Panthers have won the last two meetings.

And, in a first-ever meeting on the football field, the Cherokee County Warriors travel to Class 5A Arab to take on the Knights.

Other Week 1 games include West End at Sand Rock, Piedmont at Saks, Spring Garden at Pleasant Valley, and Gaylesville at Asbury.

Friday, Sept. 6

The Warriors open up Region 6 play by hosting the Oneonta Redskins. The two teams have split their last four meetings.

Collinsville clashes with 2A state champion Fyffe to begin Class 3A, Region 8 action, and Spring Garden travels to Ragland to begin its region battles.

Other Week 2 action includes Cedar Bluff at Gaston, Gaylesville at Valley Head, Ohatchee at Piedmont, and Sand Rock at North Sand Mountain.

Friday, Sept. 13

Etowah pays a visit to Centre to take on the Warriors and Cedar Bluff welcomes North Sand Mountain in crucial Week 3 region battles. Appalachian at Gaylesville, Sand Rock at Section, Woodville at Spring Garden, and Whitesburg Christian at Collinsville round out the action in Week 3.

Friday, Sept. 20

Piedmont pays a visit to Rainbow City and former coach Steve Smith when the Bulldogs battle Westbrook Christian. Piedmont won last year’s battle 35-19.

Spring Garden also faces a tough road test when it travels to Valley Head.

Other action in Week 4 includes Cherokee County at White Plains, Section at Cedar Bluff, Collinsville at Asbury, and Pleasant Valley at Sand Rock.

Friday, Sept. 27

In a rematch from last year’s 7-6 classic, Cedar Bluff welcomes county rival Spring Garden to L.D. Bruce Field. Another rivalry game also highlights Week 5 as Sand Rock travels to Collinsville.

Piedmont also hosts 2023 Class 2A state semifinalist B.B. Comer, Cherokee County clashes with Class 6A Shades Valley in Irondale, and Gaylesville is at Verbena.

Friday, Oct. 4

October opens with Anniston paying a visit to Warrior Stadium to take on Cherokee County in a crucial Class 4A, Region 6 clash. Pisgah at Sand Rock, Collinsville at Geraldine, Locust Fork at Piedmont, Appalachian at Spring Garden, and Gaylesville at Ider also highlight Week 6.

Friday, Oct. 11

Spring Garden battles Gaylesville for the first time in seven years to highlight Week 7. Other crucial games include Cherokee County at Hokes Bluff, Cedar Bluff at Pisgah, Collinsville at Sylvania, and J.B. Pennington at Piedmont.

Friday, Oct. 18

Two longtime rivalries are featured in Week 8 between Sand Rock and Cedar Bluff and Alexandria at Cherokee County. This year there’s more at stake than just bragging rights.

Gaylesville at Ragland, Piedmont at Weaver, Ider at Spring Garden, and Brindlee Mountain at Collinsville round out the action in Week 8.

Friday, Oct. 25

The last week of region play could have some playoff implications. Highlighting Week 9 is Gaston at Sand Rock, Woodville at Gaylesville, and Wellborn at Piedmont. Ashville at Cherokee County and Collinsville at Holly Pond round out the week’s action.

Friday, Nov. 1

Teams get one last tune-up for the postseason in Week 10. The final week of the regular season features non-region battles, including Valley Head at Collinsville, Ranburne at Spring Garden, Piedmont at Glencoe, Cedar Bluff at Donoho, and Whitesburg Christian at Sand Rock.

The AHSAA state playoffs are scheduled to begin Friday, Nov. 8. Play continues through the Super 7 championships at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium Dec. 4-6.

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